As an Arizonan I’ve been asked A LOT, recently, about my perspective on the new law (SB 1070) that will go into effect at the end of July 2010. If you haven’t read the bill, take a minute and actually READ it! It is a very loaded subject and one that merits discussion and diligent thought.
As a Christ follower, I try my best to align my political perspective with the Kingdom of God and not with political party. Some of you will agree with me and some of you will totally disagree with me in my opinions and honestly that’s okay. Obviously, the issue is heavily loaded, but I think it’s important for us to discuss. I’m certainly not asserting to be an expert on the issue, these are just a few of my thoughts and observations that I’m, somewhat reluctantly, sharing out loud.
My first thought is that we need to use our brains and prayerfully think through what REAL and reasonable reform looks like in our country. As we look at reform we need to remember, legal or illegal, that these immigrants are people. Whether you want them to leave today or not they are human beings with souls, dreams, desires and families. One of the hardest things for me to watch is the conversations where American citizens so quickly forget that these immigrants aren’t all criminal, tax sucking, lazy, alcoholic, drug trafficking, DUI offending, murdering, adulteress law breakers. If that’s your perspective on the issue, you clearly don’t know these people and you’ve allowed some source of media or political perspective to give you rhetoric rather than reality. I’m not saying there aren’t those people in that demographic, but it’s a far fetch to make the assumption that all of them fall in to those categories.
I recently heard the story of a Mexican woman here in the Southeast Valley. She’s the widowed mother of 5 Children who are all American citizens. She barely makes it but works odd jobs to ensure her children have their basic needs met. She’s here undocumented and doing all that she can to be here legally. The process has not been easy or reasonable to say the least and she’s been diligently trying to get legal status. She’s a hardworking woman who is trying to make a better way of life for her and her kids than the impoverished life she lived in Juarez, Mexico. She’s heavily involved in serving her community through the local church and is a huge part of a lot of people’s lives.
This woman recently came to one of her Pastors distraught over what she should do about the situation with SB 1070. She’s been in America almost 10+ years and this is where life is now. With this new law the choice is dicey. If she stays she gets to be the mom to her kids, contribute to society through her work, she can serve in her local church and keep trying to gain some long term legal status. Her end goal is to become a citizen of the USA as soon as humanly possible. The risk of her staying under SB 1070 is that it’s not just a deportation under the new law. It’s actually criminal and if she was arrested she’d most likely do some jail time to then be deported after serving her time. This then limits her chances of ever becoming a citizen or even gaining long term legal status to be here, because she would now be a criminal offender. She’s also mortified of what ‘jail’ is even like and fears for her well being in the jail system. She’s an upstanding mom trying to make a better way for her family, not a murderer.
Her choice is ‘going home’. Her Dilemma is that she’ll most likely end up leaving her 5 American children here in the States if she went back to Mexico. She would painfully choose this as she knows the life she’ll offer them in Mexico isn’t one that is in the best interest of their future. What does that mean for the kids and for society? Most likely the kids will end up in the Foster care system, will be split up and who knows the life they’ll live in light of that tough decision.
She also faces the struggle of really having little to no connection with people in the city where she’s from which is Juarez, Mexico. This is because she’s been in the States for so long now. She fears for her life because she’ll be ‘coming back’ to this city with a perception of being rich and American in a money hungry culture. Unfortunately, Juarez has one of the highest murder rates of any city in the WORLD right now and that is where she’s from in Mexico (in 2007 it had the highest murder rate in the world). She’s heard about the loss of close friends and family in her city due to ruthless bloodshed in the last few years. She’s just at her whits end trying to figure out what decision to make in light of SB 1070. Distraught, afraid and with the clock ticking her decision still weighs in the balance. Time will only tell.
What would you do if put in her situation?!
In some ways I think Gov. Brewers stealth operation to go out in the middle of nowhere to sign a bill that came out of nowhere is a wake up call to our country. I’m not sure it’s the wake up call everyone was hoping for, but, certainly, for some of you it couldn’t have been more timely. The subject of our borders and immigration needs to be addressed and needs reform.
It’s been interesting to talk to people who are being directly effected by the enforcement of this law. We’re talking about people who have been in the states undocumented for decades now. Many of these people like this woman I mentioned have children who are American citizens and have little to no connection with the place where they came from in Mexico. If you’re saying to them ‘go home’ because they’re illegal, I would contend that you’re not really thinking about what you’re saying and the ramifications of what that does to a family unit. If ‘the law’ had been consistently enforced on the Federal, State and Local level this conversation would be very different. Unfortunately, the law has not been effectively enforced in our nation for a long time and so we find ourselves with an issue that needs addressing with that understanding in mind. We have to consider these stories as we reform our process and we also have to consider the stories that aren’t as ideal as the one I told. The story of the illegal that was DUI who killed that innocent American family has to be considered too. There needs to be reasonable reform in this issue and it I believe it needs to include equitable amnesty in the reform.
There are sooo many stemming reasons that make me think SB 1070 isn’t the answer for reform. In my opinion, I believe Gov. Brewer found an amazing way to get another term as the Arizona Governor and to wake the Federal Government to a pressing issue called Immigration Reform. What I don’t think is a good idea is a Federal lawsuit on Arizona or this bill coming into law at the end of this month. Neither are good answers to reasonable change in our great country.
I hope we can talk about reasonable Immigration Reform? My opinion is that ‘Cold Gavel-ing’ and enforcing a new law like SB 1070 at the end of the month can’t be the best answer we have when we haven’t enforced Immigration Laws or our borders properly in decades. We need to own, at all level of Government, what we haven’t done well in regards to this law. The process for people to get a work visa, obtain citizenship and to actually be here legally, while better than most countries, still needs a 21st Century face-lift. Our Federal, State and Local Governments needs to address this unreliable process and figure out a way to streamline people through the process with efficiency. For some the answer will be YES for obtaining legal status and for others, based on the criteria, the answer will be NO. There has to be lines drawn for who can and can’t be here legally, but, every person should have the right to go through that process in a timely manner with efficiency. We’ve got to lay down the right to politics and start taking up the rights of people once again. Political rhetoric on either side doesn’t get stuff done and I pray that we would find some unified grounds on reform within our great country. It has to be done.
I recently was talking with a friend about The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 from Reagan’s day. I think he really got the idea of what equitable amnesty meant while also beginning to really address legitimate and reasonable reform. I haven’t studied all of the reasons why Immigration has continued to be a lack luster issue in our Government, but, I do know that it’s been over decades of bi-partisan leadership in which it’s slipped through the cracks.
Check out the basics of what this Act provided:
In brief the act:
- required employers to attest to their employees’ immigration status, and granted amnesty to certain illegal immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982 and had resided there continuously
- made it illegal to knowingly hire or recruit illegal immigrants (immigrants who do not possess lawful work authorization)
- granted a path towards legalization to certain agricultural seasonal workers and immigrants who had been continuously and illegally present in the United States since January 1, 1982
Do you think this kind of an Act should be put back on the table with updated dates and a better plan to secure the borders? What do you think about the situation? Sound off and be kind to one another when you do it! Opinions are fine, just don’t be hating on each other as you fire off your opinions. Respect makes you credible in conversations like this one. Remember we’re talking about human beings and not animals. Ready, Set, Go….